Thursday, May 17, 2012

Goodbye Indian Summer

And there goes our Indian summer. Almost overnight it seems we’ve gone from air conditioners to heating. Suddenly you no longer sweat while working in the garden but need a scarf around your neck and a beanie not a sunhat on your head. Yuk! I love our Indian summer and every year mourn its departure.

I’ve been trying to get into the garden and pull out a few weeds but with my return to full-time work I am finding it hard to find the time. I did spend a lovely couple of hours last weekend pottering around pulling out a few weeds; hoicking out a self-sown Euryops pectinatus that was threatening to take over; planting a few bits and pieces and generally checking everything out. The euryops is actually a tough South African survivor – you’d know it in an instant. Bright yellow daisy flowers, bright green foliage – like a marguerite daisy but with green leaves. This one appeared from out of the blue and was quite well behaved during the drought but went ballistic after the rain and tripled in size swamping everything around it.

The rain really has had an amazing affect on all gardens not just mine over the last 18 months. So many things have finally grown! It makes you realise just how much they were hanging on by the skin of their teeth during the drought! My Chinese windmill palm has doubled in size as has the Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea. My poor little struggling pomegranate has grown heaps as has Salvia ‘African Skies’ (which comes from South America – go figure!). I decided I liked the ornamental grass Miscanthus transmorrisonensis better than the one I had and it is looking fabulous after only 12 months in the garden – lots of fluffy cream plumes waving in the breeze held well clear of the foliage unlike my Miscanthus ‘Sarabande’. It looks a little like a mini pampas grass – and as we don’t plant them anymore it’s a pleasing facsimile.

I bought a new variety of tree dahlia 2 years ago and it has tripled in size! Dahlia ‘Timothy Hammet’ was named by NZ breeder Keith Hammett for his late son and is a cross between two unusual tree-type dahlias. It’s supposed to be an evergreen bush all year long, but in our climate it does die back to sticks in winter and then resprouts from the base. It grew madly in spring and these long whippy growths flopped to the side. Then in late summer new upright growth came from the centre and the plant now measures 3m across by 2m in height! It is producing a plethora of bright purple blooms at the moment and looks great next to a Tagetes lemonii in full golden bloom.

After the first autumn rain the other night I ran around in the dark with a torch squashing snails and sprinkling some snail pellets on the most susceptible plants. There is nothing worse than seeing the emerging leaves of the fabulous Haemanthus unfurl with huge holes in them because one snail was hungry! It quite ruins the display for the next 7 months. The last of the autumn roses are blooming, its time to resow the sweet peas because the first batch didn’t come up and plant the remainder of the plants in my little nursery in the ground. Oh and I mustn’t forget the vegetable garden – time to plant out the garlic! And the broad beans! Mustn’t forget the broad beans otherwise there will be no broad bean and garlic oil pasta in spring.

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